New Delhi: Hours after Union minister MJ Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani who, along with 14 other women, had accused him of sexual harassment, Ramani came up with a statement on Twitter reiterating her stand on the issue. She said, “I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence.”
Akbar filed a defamation suit against Ramani in Delhi’s Patiala House court on Monday. The minister of state for external affairs has accused Ramani of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and has sought the issuance of notice to Ramani under section 499 (defamation) and section 500 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Section 500 of the IPC provides that an accused may be awarded two years’ jail term or fine or both in the event of conviction.
Earlier, he had also issued an official statement rejecting allegations of sexual harassment and termed the entire act to be politically motivated. He went on to question their timing, asking, “Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge?”
The defamation suit termed the allegations made by Ramani as “scandalous” and “very tone and tenor” ex-facie defamatory.
However, five of the ten women journalists who had laid accusations against the minister, stood by their statements.
While people are demanding the resignation of Akbar, the BJP does not seem to be anywhere close to sacking the accused minister.
Twitteratti lashed out at the Union minister, including several from the media fraternity:
Apart from the verbal support, an appeal by Sucheta Dalal, a senior journalist who has been crowd-funding the defence of Priya Ramani as well as 14 others against the defamation suit, is also catching up on Twitter, with many coming out in support of the proposal.
Meanwhile, hashtag campaigns including ‘#MJAkbarMustGo’ ‘#MJAkbarStepDown’, demanding the ousting of Akbar are also trending on Twitter.